So we’ve talked about the different kinds of malware, and we’ve talked about the different ways to identify a dangerous, infected email.
What we haven’t yet explored are the specific technology solutions that can help keep your machines and network protected in the event that you do come across malicious software.
As an outsourced IT services responsible for protecting and supporting over 200 organizations in the DC Metro area, you could say that we don’t take these kind of protective measures lightly. In fact, over our 24 years of business we’ve done extensive research on the anti-virus solutions that are out there, and which packages make the most sense in a business scenario.
Below we’ll walk through the two main types of anti-virus software, along with what specific solutions might make the most sense for your business.
The two main types of anti-virus
Under the umbrella of “anti-virus” are two different types of software:
- Resident, all-in-one packages. These are the software packages that run constantly on your desktops. They protect your computer from known viruses by identifying “viral signatures” (patterns linked to viral activity) within programs. Once a signature is identified, the software will take action by generating an alert and running a scan on your machine to identify active threats; the goal here is to nip the threat in the bud before your machine becomes infected in the first place. In other words, these programs keep track of the viruses that have appeared over the course of several years, and keep watch for any similar programs. You might see hints of a drawback here—since these resident packages are working from historical data, newly-created viruses will sometimes pass through unnoticed until the definitions catch up with them.
- Second-opinion scanners/Cleaners. Rather than hunting for whispers of known viruses, second-opinion scanners are more focused on identifying and remediating new viruses. These software packages are updated several times a day with new virus definitions to keep better pace with hackers. Typically, these packages are brought in after a computer is already infected with a virus to clean the infection from the system. Given their focus on new viruses, cleaners are armed with fewer overall virus definitions, so they are typically used alongside a resident anti-virus package.
The best anti-virus solutions for business
When it comes to your resident anti-virus, there are several big names that will likely suit your organization well:
- VIPRE. This is the package we use for our internal machines, and the one we provide to our clients. It offers solid management capabilities on our end, and robust protection for the end-user.
- Webroot. Webroot was the runner-up in our software selection process, as it has a number of impressive features and performs smoothly (we ultimately preferred VIPRE’s management tools, but it was a difficult choice).
- Symantec. We’ve all heard of Symantec, and for good reason—this package has a long and successful history. They have now switched to an "endpoint protection" model as opposed to pure anti-virus, but virus protection remains a crucial layer to the solution.
- Sophos. Contrary to popular belief, Macintosh computers can, in fact, be infected by malware. Sophos was created specifically for Macs, and helps keep them protected from the more rare (but very real) malware threat.
Here too are some of our favorite cleaner/second-opinion software solutions:
- Malwarebytes. Malwarebytes can function as a cleaner in conjunction with other resident software, or it can run as a resident/cleaner combination. This is a solid all-around cleaner, and is the package that we use within our own company.
- HitmanPro. This is a cloud-based anti-virus that pulls on several different scanners; when an unknown file is identified, the software will upload the information and scan it with multiple tools to see if further action needs to be taken.
- RogueKiller. Rather than relying on virus definitions, RogueKiller also scans processes and uses heuristics (behavior) to identify activity that resembles that of a virus.
- ADW Cleaner. This final solution focuses on Potentially Unwanted Programs (PUPs; sometimes a precursor to viruses as they install third-party software) more than actual malware, but it does a good job of it.
Clearly there is no shortage of anti-virus solutions on the market today. Hopefully this piece will help you narrow down your options, and find the combination of resident/second-opinion software that makes the most sense for your organization.
All-in-all, the most important piece of the security puzzle is—as we’ve said many times before—making security and security education a standard part of your company’s onboarding and overall culture.
From there, you’re on the right path to keeping your computers and your data safe from malicious advances.